The Sharks lost their first four games to the 2019-20 season, and it hasn't gotten much better since. San Jose is all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs for only the second time since Doug Wilson took over as general manager 16 seasons ago. Just as it has been for the players, the disappointing year has been tough on Wilson, too.
"It's been a challenge," Wilson told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker ahead of the Sharks' game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. "But that happens in life. If you're going to have the success and the moments that you enjoy, then you've got to deal with these things. I'll be honest with you, you learn a lot about people through times like this. Emotions get into play, but what you've got to do is make sure you have clarity to make the right decisions going forward. So, that's the balance you're trying to find during these challenging times."
Wilson and San Jose got more clarity with the passing of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday, as the team sent veteran forwards Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, in exchange for draft picks. The Sharks also received two draft picks from the Washington Capitals in the Brenden Dillon trade last week.
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While the draft picks certainly will help as Wilson tries to build the roster back to a contending state this offseason, the departures of Marleau, Goodrow and Dillon have left large voids in the Sharks' lineup, and there are still 20 games left to play. With San Jose's playoff hopes already dashed, they have every reason to fill those voids with prospects from within the system that might or might not be part of the franchise's future moving forward.
It will be a different kind of finish to the regular season than the Sharks are accustomed to, but Wilson is looking forward to seeing what several of those younger players can do with their resulting opportunities.
"There's a lot of them," Wilson said of the prospects. "You take a look at Mario Ferraro -- I think right from Day 1 has been really good -- he's actually stepping up to the next level. You've got a kid, Lean Bergmann, that's been brought in. [Alex True] has come in and [Joel] Kellman's come in, and you're going to see a bunch of guys for the next 20 games or so. And out of this challenging time comes great opportunity. And I think the quality veterans that we have are continuing to instill us playing the right way, which means the young kids can come in and get into good habits. So, we're focused in on that, and there's a little juice and energy when you see these young guys come in."
There hasn't been much positive energy surrounding the Sharks this season. But maybe, just maybe, the youngsters can help San Jose finish the 2019-20 season on a relatively high note.